frightening figures | 

Counties with the highest Covid rates are revealed as doctors warn on self-isolation

Covid-19 test. Stock image

Covid-19 test. Stock image

Eilish O’

Waterford, Laois, Cork, Offaly, Clare, Limerick, Wicklow, Kerry and Galway are now the worst-hit counties for Covid-19.

They all had an incidence rate of over 280 per 100,000 in the past week, figures for the spread of the virus reveal.

The measure lags behind the full level of infection sweeping the country and is based on free HSE PCR tests.

It does not take into account those who found they had the virus through home antigen tests or the many who had mild or no symptoms.

The lowest incidence levels were seen in Roscommon, Monaghan, Cavan, Louth, Leitrim, Wexford, Mayo and Kilkenny.

The report from the disease watchdog, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), comes as Ireland remains engulfed in a summer Covid-19 wave, hitting industry and sparking high levels of staff absence due to the need to self-isolate.

GPs are reporting people are developing possible symptoms but not following the advice to self-isolate until 48 hours after signs of illness disappear.

Some are relying on home antigen tests, which can initially show up a negative result.

The advice to people with potential symptoms is to self-isolate until two days after they have gone, and not to see a negative antigen test as a green light.

There were 798 Covid-19 patients in hospital yesterday, up from 776 on Wednesday. Of these, 33 were in intensive care, indicating an upward trend.

Around half are there due to Covid-19 illness and the rest are in hospital with other illnesses but tested positive.

The impact of the wave is seen in a rise in outbreaks last week, particularly in nursing homes, where they more than doubled from 11 to 23.

There were 24 outbreaks in hospitals, a rise of one over the previous week. Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan in recent weeks has described the numbers picking up the virus in hospital as significant.

The latest report on Covid-19 deaths shows 336 were notified in April, 108 in May and 41 in June up to last Saturday.

Between mid-December and June 19, 85pc of those admitted to intensive care due to Covid-19 had an underlying condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease or liver disease.

However, 14.6pc, or 46 patients, ended up very sick with no underlying condition.

Meanwhile, the latest update on cases of monkeypox virus shows 39 confirmed infections have been notified here to date.

The cases in Ireland come after the reporting of more than 4,000 other confirmed cases of monkeypox in Europe, North America and many other countries worldwide over recent weeks, said the HPSC.

All cases were diagnosed in men, with a median age of 37 but ranging from 19 to 65.

The vast majority identified as gay or bisexual. Seven men were hospitalised, one due to complications related to monkeypox and two for isolation purposes. More cases are expected to be seen here.

Separately, there have been 16 probable cases of hepatitis of unknown cause in children here but the hope is that this has peaked.

There has been no increase in deaths. One child has died and two others have needed liver transplants.

It is still unclear what is triggering these cases, but parents are urged to be alert for symptoms such as pale or grey-coloured stools, dark urine, or yellowing of the eyes and skin.

Meanwhile, the special leave with full pay for public health sector workers who caught Covid-19 at work and developed long Covid is to end this month, following instructions from the Department of Public Expenditure. Asked how many workers were impacted and what the rationale for the decision was, the department yesterday declined to answer.

Several of these workers were in the health service, caring for sick patients at the early stage of the pandemic when little was known about the virus and there was poor access to face masks and other protections.

They will now rely on regular sick leave entitlements.

Independent TD Denis Naughten said yesterday that up to 300,000 people in the wider population could be impacted by long Covid.

He said the HSE was “still only at the planning stage in the assessment of the scale of the problem”.

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